The MCAT is arguably the most feared, confusing and complex component to the medical school process. Each year, thousands of aspiring doctors, practitioners and therapists put their most diligent study habits in motion come application season, all in hopes of achieving acceptance-worthy MCAT scores.
But it’s not necessarily a black-and-white process. MCAT scores are a mixture of multiple kinds of questions and assessments – including the ominous and dreaded writing portion. And when it comes to the overall MCAT score range, there’s a multitude of ways you and a potential medical school admissions team can analyze specific marks.
Making Sense of MCAT Scores
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, or the AAMC, in 2011, the average MCAT score for all 86,181 test takers was 25.1 with a standard deviation of 6.4. The overall writing sample score was “O”.
An “O”? For a great majority of aspiring medical school students, receiving an oddly-placed letter or low number can be incredibly confusing without the context of MCAT scores to back it up.
Essentially, the MCAT is divided into four distinct sections, and each is unique in its individual score to assess achievement.
The first three sections (physics, biology and chemistry) are comprised of a series of multiple choice questions, each bearing its own score based on difficulty. The sum of the MCAT scores for each section ranges from one to 15.
The writing portion, however, is the more oddball mark. The MCAT score for the test’s two writing samples range from J (the lowest mark) to T (the highest mark). However, the two essays are first scored on a scale of one to six before they receive a letter mark.
Thus, once you’ve received your final score tally, you’re final score will range from 0 to 45, and contain a letter between J and T.
Ideal MCAT Scores: What It Takes
Taking the MCAT can be flummoxing and frustrating. The test is extremely dense in the foundations of physics, biology and chemistry, and will require some substantial planning and prepping on your part.
And because the test is so complex, chances are you’ll be seeing the inside of an MCAT testing room more than once. Once you’ve received your MCAT scores in the mail, don’t assume you’ll need to showcase a series of dismal marks to your dream medical school.
For instance, Harvard Medical requires average verbal MCAT scores of 11, an average physical science score of 12, an average biological science score of 12, and an average writing sample of Q.
Conversely, John Hopkins University will typically accept applicants with an 11.1 verbal score, an 11.9 physical science score, an 11.9 biological science score, and a Q writing score.
Once you’ve created a master list of the medical schools you’ll be applying for, be sure to take note of the MCAT requirements for each. You can find the MCAT scores for all the top medical schools across the country, as well as average GPA and other vital statistics on our school listing page.